The VVers were savvy enough to have purchased tickets for the sold out Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings show at the newly renovated Lincoln Theater on U Street. Those Dap Kings and Miss Jones really brought down the house during their stellar set! This spurred VVer #1 to buy a 45 at the concert (shocking!) of the super single "100 Days 100 Nights." The following eve, upon first listen in the Casa de VV, Sharon's voice sounded decidedly off. "This is not Miss Sharon Jones!" Truth be told her vocals dragged, sounding all bass and lacking her signature zazz. Did the turntable need a nap? VVer #1 suggested listening to a YouTube snippet of the song to see if any difference could be heard. With this it was immediately apparent that the turntable was not operating up to speed. How long had this been going on for!?! Had any 45 speed vinyl been playing at up-to-par speeds and how does one tell? The standard method for testing and measuring the speed and accuracy of your turntable is to use a strobe disc which you put on your player much like a record. The strobe is a disc that has dots all around it and when spinning at the correct speed the dots are supposed to look as if they are staying still. The strobe works due to a combination of how electric lights oscillate, plus the distance the dots are apart, times the actual speed of your player. Sounds kind of dull, right? Oh, you fell asleep just now? Wake up, there's a turntable to fix here!
VVer #2 had already been formulating a crazy idea in her mind of how to test the speed of the turntable sans strobe and suggested, "oooooor, we could just count how many turns the record makes in one minute, if it's 45, then we are good." BUM BUMM BAHHH! Brilliant! VVer #1 was all in for this crazy experiment. It went sort of like this:
VVer #1 demanded a listen to both 45s and 33s to determine if the various speeds were off. LPs had been sounding fine, but it seemed appropriate to be thorough. VVer #2 queued up the stopwatch and VVer #1 put a part of a post-it note on the very edge of a 45 and ... GO! Strange, it got to almost exactly 33 rotations in a minute ... and, oops, the player was set to 33! These VVers sometimes have problems adjusting to the correct speed as elaborated on here. Upon a re-count at 45 speed, it got to 42 rotations in a minute. It was in fact playing at 3 rpms too slow. Horrors! Now this might not seem like a lot of rpms to the lay person, but a lot of oomph can be attributed to a few missing rpms! Where do the speed challenged VVers go from here?
|Post-it note sliver|
Turns out they break out their ace in the hole; the vintage portable suitcase record player. Just last year it was dropped a few dollars on to have professionally serviced, a near guarantee that it plays at the right speed. Time to play all the 45s and hear them for the "first" time.
|Tools of the trade|
|Some of the 45s we tested our turntable with|